Aug18SunAugust 18, 2013
One of the myths of the active spiritual life – of someone engaging in regular silent prayer and meditation – is that it’s all about, and leads merely to an exclusively private, withdrawn, passive existence sequestered far away from the public realm. This myth needs de-bunking. In truth, the more time anyone spends studying and praying the scriptures, the closer anyone personally experiences the Living God of the Hebrews and Jesus through prayer and meditation, the better our relationships with others become, and the more we’re prompted to engage the world effectively through acts of justice and loving kindness. The scriptures, and Jesus’ life, have always attested to this necessary link between the interior life of quiet prayer and meditation, and the outward life of action in the public sphere. This is simply what happens when one is encountered by the Living God.
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- Pr. David
Many moments impressed me about the Joint ELCIC / ACC Convention held in Ottawa in early July, including the mere fact that for the first time in Canadian history, and anywhere else in the world as far as anyone can tell, two Christian denominations held their constituting conventions together, in the same space, at the same time. Admittedly, the newly built Ottawa Convention Centre was ideal for this kind of gathering. It was large enough to house both ELCIC and ACC delegates (approximately 700) for joint sessions, while also allowing each church to meet separately for internal business sessions – merely by sliding divider walls to separate the delegates. Experiencing, in a tangible way, the “together-ness” of the Christian Church – despite different denominational histories, cultures and jurisdictional boundaries – was remarkable.
But what impressed me most, was what the Joint Convention succeeded in doing. It didn’t merely “take care of internal business” remaining sequestered in a private, withdrawn state far away from the world. Instead, in a bold and gutsy move, it did what practicing an active spiritual life ultimately leads to: responding to God’s call to “do justice, love kindness, and to walk humbly with God” (Micah 6:8). It passed two joint resolutions relating to the public sphere. One resolution committed both churches to advocate for “responsible resource extraction” by Canadian mining companies, and to support affected communities in demanding their right to “free, prior and informed consent” with respect to resource extraction. The other resolution was to commit churches to learn more about the reality of homelessness across Canada, and to raise awareness, pray, and advocate for the need for affordable housing. For more about these joint resolutions, go to www.elcic.ca.
As Bishop Susan Johnson highlighted in her sermon in the Opening Worship: “for God so loved the world…” that God created. (John 3:16). God so loves the world, and so we as followers of this God in Jesus need to have our feet firmly planted in the world, making our stamp on the public realm, loving it, and all those who occupy it.
So, yes, we regularly worshipped and prayed together. In fact, at one point near the end of a separate session, ELCIC delegates took about 45 minutes in silent and spoken prayer! But we also made a powerful witness to God’s reconciling, healing and restorative love in the public realm; so the world may know the reality of God and God’s intentions in the world. We had indeed lived the theme of the Joint Convention: “Together, for the love of the world.”
by Pastor David